Flash Fiction-Pyromaniac

inhospitable2bwonderland

I’m back to digging through some of the older Flash Fiction pieces again.  This week, I’ve been reminiscing over fire.

As it’s been cold up here in Frosty Wisconsin, is there any wonder why my thoughts were turning to extreme heat sources?

The flash piece below was my offering for Flash! Friday’s 2014 anniversary celebration…and was the 2nd piece I officially submitted to their weekly frenzy.  I have to admit – I was shocked senseless when my entry was chosen as one of the 12 semi-finalists.  Now, I don’t have access to the original photograph, but it was stunning.  A small building (think: cabin in the deep woods) fully engulfed in flame in the dead of night.   I do remember they had a strict word count on this one (150 words on the nose…no more, no less) and the usual 24 hour time period to submit.

I can’t believe I never slipped this up on the T&T – it’s one of my favorite pieces of flash.

And, accompanying the piece is not my usual flash banner – the image is one I got a mind-shot of when someone on Google+ shared a picture of a close up of the front grille of a pot-bellied stove.  I just had to create something in ‘Shop to bring that vision to life.  One of my first attempts at actual drawing in ‘shop.  I think it turned out well 🙂

 

Pyromaniac

150 words

Flame.

Orange against black. Subtle licks of cerulean, scarlet, saffron and emerald flare into being to vanish in an instant without a trace. Elongated fingers of incandescence stretch into the void to momentarily paint their essence onto the obsidian night sky.

Inferno.
It is alive with movement – sliding, shifting, waving, weaving – its hypnotic, primal dance both beautiful and terrible as it crafts a timeless, mesmerizing, elemental ballet of destruction.

Blaze.
The voice of combustion, a low, throaty growling howl of clean air transformed to sweltering luminescence, whispering secret desires into the ears of those who worship it.

Immolation.
They listen, comprehending the flare’s song in that most primitive portion of the brain. They stare, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed, into the complex twisting leap and swirl of the living flame. They are powerless to resist the compelling demands of spark, ember, pyre.

Intentional.
Some men just need to watch the world burn.

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Have a Festive SeaKwaHoliChrisKkah (Now Go Forth and Shop!)

Two years ago, I was full of a lot of stuff..

Yer right…not much has changed…

And I put out this post.

Because this is the Wednesday before the ‘official’ Holiday Shopping kickoff known as Black Friday – I thought a little PSA from 2 years ago was appropriate.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Shop-zilla copy

Shop-zilla in its natural habitat

No matter what you call this month-plus of celebratory gluttony, your original reason for the recognition of this special day/week/month has been out-sung by one Goliath with deeper pockets and blood ties to Big Advert:  the retail industry.  In fact, Shop-zilla’s demands (to go forth, spend a lot of money on useless crap your friends, family and/or co-workers don’t really need, in order to receive the same said back) have over-ridden any other (read:  petty, in Shop-zilla speak) considerations for this last month of the Gregorian Calendar Year.

Shop-zilla will go on to implore you to not forget the gift receipts, so all that stuff can go BACK to the store and exchanged for the cash that it has spent a lot of time and effort to make the average consumer consider gauche to give in the first place.

Shop-zilla is not completely heartless, though – it did work on a very positive PR campaign for gift cards in lieu of cash, to the tune of ringing cash registers everywhere, a few years back.  It was considered a claws-down success.

After-Holiday sales are just as crucial as the before-Holiday ones for feeding Shop-zilla.

I want to personally remind you to wish everyone the Happiest, Merriest, and most awesome-ist of this special celebratory time while fighting over that close-to-the-door parking space, or the only remaining in stock item of the electronic gizmo-of-the-year.

The sad part of this celebratory season are the number of people lately taking egregious offense at someone wishing them THEIR version of this special season’s well-wishes, instead of the ‘offendee’s’ own, which they make no effort to disclose prior to that chance-meeting out in public.

I saw a news article (well…someone called it news) on a woman who was so incensed over a cashier wishing them “Happy Holidays!” instead of ‘Merry Christmas!,’ that a fisticuffs broke out.

I really wish I was making this up!

I have a special left of reality solution for this rampant “I’m so keyed up I need to take offense at semantics” issue.  Three solutions, actually, which I am prepared to share with the world – completely, totally, and absolutely free of charge.

 

Shop-zilla comment

 

 

“Free?????” howls Shop-zilla…

 

 

 

Idea #1

If you wish to have the greeting of your choice uttered within earshot -and specifically TO you- by perfect strangers in the midst of the busiest shopping event of the year – you must have said greeting tattooed on your forehead.  This must be in plain sight, and not hidden by any caps, scarves, or hair.  The largest font available to fit your forehead is recommended.  I would suggest the color scheme be composed of glaringly-clashing hues, to further heighten visibility.

Not into ink?  An alternate would be to wear a banner, a beanie, a ball cap, or another brightly-colored and easy-to-read article of apparel that is, again, in plain sight.  LED lights should be stitched into the fabric and set on a high rate of flash, to really draw the eyes of everyone.  The goal here is:  You HAVE to let the world – every single random stranger you could possibly meet – know exactly what your preferred greeting IS.

I would also suggest multiple languages be considered, just in case someone you come across does not speak your native tongue.

This should hold humanity over until a proper virus that imparts telepathy to the population can be developed and released.

Idea #2

Alternately – how about we switch the official greeting of this celebratory season to what it REALLY is in the eyes of the world:  “Go Forth and Shop.”  This, if you haven’t already guessed, is Shop-zilla’s favorite…

I can see it already:

new Season's Greetings

Simple.  Logical.  Perfect.  And highly recommended by four out of five Social Programming Specialists.  Fisticuffs, ambulance rides, and ER visits REALLY get in the way of holiday over-spending.

Idea #3

We all, as a species, learn to accept well-wishing greetings in the spirit they are given, rather than focusing on (and getting pissed over) minute differences in culture.

Yea…you’re right…#3 will never work…

Now…Go Forth and Shop, everyone!  Shop-zilla is counting on you!

 

On Funerals and Seating Arrangements

roses-from-ceiling-uprighted

Everything has its season.  You start out all fresh & shiny and new – then that little thing we like to call time happens.

The shine dries out.

The leaves start to droop.

The aroma begins to fade…

Smooth goes to gritty.

Soft becomes hard.

The stitching starts to fray…

My computer chair has finally breathed its last.

spook-on-chair

 

The poor old dear has been showing her age.  The seat cushion has lost it’s cush.  The casters feel gritty when they roll across the floor.  The pleatherette has faded to a dusty blackish-grey, crossed all over with fine pressure lines.  The back is pebbled with tiny claw holes.

 

Flowing across the entire surface, the criss-crossed scrapes, scars, and tears combine into a roadmap of the journey I and my chair have traversed together.

 

 

We’ve been through a lot.   She originally resided in the office of a dance studio in downtown Waukesha, where she was loved furiously by the owner’s (then) 3 year old daughter.  She’s sit and spin, giggle, spin, giggle, spin and giggle, often rubbing the chair’s corners against the wall in her youthful zeal.  I received this affection-abraded chair from the owner when he closed his shop- my only cost being to love the chair as much as his daughter had.

The chair and I have been through photo editing for several bands.  We embarked on learning to manipulate images, first with the free online editors, later investing in Photoshop. We’ve conducted hundreds of Photoshop experiments, both successful and not, worked together to develop my photographer’s eye, learned origami, glass etching, wire wrapping and chainmaille.  We’ve created announcement banners for my vaping group, a couple of graphic ideas for business cards, and watched the increasingly downward spiral of politics in this country.

We’ve laughed and cried over various social media outlets – Facebook, ECF, VF, SpaceCiggies and Google+, and researched the hell out of Keto before tentatively dipping the first hesitant toe into the diet waters.  One day, we vowed to figure out what good Pintrest does for the world.

I was on this chair when I heard of my sister-in-law’s death as a result of a heart infection, and my Grandmother leaving us at the age of 92.  It officiated over the purchase of 3 different cameras, and supported me when I finally upgraded to that damnable smart phone.

It has been THE place to sit whilst I compose flash fiction, and my perch when starting this blog & my Etsy shop.

This chair has additionally survived my 3 moves, 1, 2 and then 4 cats, and the great flea & bedbug invasion of 2015.

No wonder she started to act like a cranky old Auntie…I’ve put her through more drama than a piece of furniture ‘aught to have to survive.

The hydraulics started gasping their final tortured breaths about a month ago.  I’d lean back, and the chair would sink rapidly.  I’d be working at the computer, and realize I wasn’t as high as I used to be.

Last week, the old girl could no longer support me.  I’d sit, and immediately sink.  She’d spring back up once I vacated her seat.

Yesterday – she dropped for good, the hydraulics no longer giving even a hint of pressure.

She lived a full life.  A good life.  Time now for her to rest.

dumpster-roses

 

 

 

 

The funeral will be Friday, at dusk, in the Rusting Dumpster Cemetery, located behind my building.  Flowers, a candle in vigil, or good vibes appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mariko-on-chair-box

 

 

In a (not-so) surprising twist  –  I would also like to announce the birth of a clean, cushy, bouncing baby new chair and play-palace (that thing we humans call a box)  for the cats.

Once Mariko allows me to get INTO the box, that is…

 

 

 

 

Cycle of life, huh?

20161010_180317

 *R*I*P*

 

 

Tempest…meet Teapot

Camera Destroyer copy

A long time ago, in a undisclosed location not-so-far-away…

Can you hear the Star Wars music?

I had a camera. (said in dramatic, deep, movie-trailer voice)

 

I think I might have mentioned I do photo work.  Ok…I may have said I’ve done a LOT of photo work…and that said photo-work was the key to the name of my blog.

I may have even alluded to my current photographic hobby being an on-again/off-again borderline addiction.

In this case, recovery is unwanted and over-rated. 

Depending on the time of year, season, or my personal level of boredom, photography is either a passion or a curse (sometimes a bit of both).  There are days I can’t wait to pull the thing out and aim it at EVERYTHING – and there are days I don’t want to be bothered to haul around the poundage associated with the body, the lenses, spare gear, tripods, yadda yadda yadda…

The camera really DOES add 10 pounds…of accessories

And then there are days where the muse smacks me upside the head with a fantastic idea – and I’m compelled to create something awesome.

Awesome moment story/tie in with ‘How’d you name the blog, Peg’ in 3…2…1

 

Remember wavy

The ‘Memory Shimmer’

Because I have the courage to date a musician who’s got ‘starving artist’ down to a ‘T’ and I’m one of the ‘official’ photographers of his band, when he decides he wants new publicity shots for the boys of The Beltempest – camera, gear, and I get enlisted into service.

 

Spring before last – the SQO and I took a critical look at the promotional photos on the band’s Facebook page.  They were all old.  Dated.  Comprised of guys who had walked out of the band due to family commitments, relocation, or just plain pissiness.

We needed fresh images.

Keep in mind that when I say ‘fresh,’ I mean photos and image ideas that hadn’t been done to death in promoting small, unknown, progressive/apocalyptic art-rock bands.

No guys lined up against a brick wall.  No guys in stage lighting pounding on the instrument of their choosing.  No guys in leather and sunglasses and black hats looking all tough and beefy and rebellious.

We floated ideas back and forth for imagery that was odd and eye-catching – a lot that got tossed for budgetary, time, silliness or travel reasons.

The idea that stuck?  A day at the beach.

Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about April in Wisconsin.  The beach is NOT the place to be in this particular timeframe, because when the weather man says ‘Cooler by the Lake,’ he REALLY means it.  Now, it wasn’t January cold (where it actually hurts to breathe) but it was chilly enough to break out the sweaters and semi-winter jackets.

If you haven’t already guessed, in Wisconsin, we have ‘levels’ of winter wear, ranging from “It’s finally starting to get cold,” through “it’s not that bad if you keep moving” and finishing with “I think my feet just froze to the sidewalk.”

Oddly enough, we weren’t the only ones on the beach, proving that we’re not the only crazy people in the state, but are amongst a select minority.

707361

Now…here’s my little positive thought for the day:  at least the cooler temperatures meant our fellow slightly-crazy beach goers were warmly clad, and we weren’t assaulted by the random mankini or naturalist taking the ‘all-over tan’ to the extreme.

 

The photo shoot went well, as the water was energetic enough to get some good wave movement, and we could still move in the temperature without freezing to the sand. The boys were keyed up, too, with the excitement of a day at the beach, as we tend to take our little pleasures wherever we can get them!

The sky, however, didn’t cooperate, being bright, clean, and sunny, without so much as a whisper of cloud in it. Really! Nothing visually exciting above the horizon at all!

Good thing I’m a ‘shop addict…

So where does the teapot come in?

Mr. Teapot was pure serendipity – the momentary ‘smack upside the head by the muse’ I referred to earlier which was brought on by a chance encounter with a piece of pottery.

The SQO lives with his Aunt and helps her take care of her home. Once the snows start to melt, stuff starts to get donated as she gets caught in the throes of that yearly purge affectionately called Spring Cleaning.

I, too, experience a quasi-religious ecstasy at the thought of clearing clutter…

One of the things she had set aside to donate to Goodwill was my little white ceramic teapot.

He sat there, on the table, all white and shining and perky amongst the other stuff destined for a quick trip to the resale shop  There may have been an errant sunbeam illuminating his belly to wink at me as the wild idea leapt from…wherever it is that wild ideas leap from…to slap me between the eyeballs.

The Tempest:

The word is contained within the name of the band.  A tempest can also be an agitated body of water, a violent uprising, a strong wind storm, etc.  Well…we were going to the Lakeshore on a semi-windy day – so the odds were good that the water would be agitating nicely.

 ………………………………………………………… And the Teapot:

Right there in all it’s tea-steeping white-glazed glory not 5 feet from me…close enough to the teacup in the popular phrase to be a recognizable play on it.

So I saved the teapot from resale uncertainty and took him for a day at the beach.

If any of the boys thought I had a screw loose as I carefully positioned the teapot on the piled stones and started clicking away, they hid it well…professional courtesy, and all that…

And, while I wasn’t happy with the original background – a brief session with ‘Shop later put a wonderful wave-action shot in its place to tie the two concepts into the perfect photographic representation which became the header of the Tempest & the Teapot.

And the band shot?  One of my favorites:

Tempest Coming copy

Everything’s Shiny, Capt’n

captaintightpantscopy

 

Sorry – not an homage to our favorite Space Cowboy, although…yea…Firefly is a favorite.  Damn the network for screwing that one up.

It’s been exceedingly quiet lately on the T&T, because I’m sliding through creative cycles with shiny stuff… and to be perfectly honest, here, I’ve always known this would eventually happen, because this is the way my creative impulses work.

I go through phases.  I’ll be utterly obsessed with the written word for a while, put out some flash fiction, work on a longer story, blog like a mad thing in an attempt to catalog my thoughts.

Pick fights on Facebook when the politics of the world annoy me JUUUUUUST so…

Then something new will catch my eye, and I’ll be making faces out of clay.  Or photographing everything in sight.  Or creating memes in photoshop.  Or exploring new greenspaces and obsessing over celestial events. Or…you get the idea.

 

The creative voices in my head rearrange the furniture in their living space more often then new homeowners… 

My latest impulse – is jewelry, and I’ve become obsessed enough to share my creations with the world through Etsy:

TempestAndTeapot

I got the initial idea, not surprisingly, from the kids, who brought with them, along with their clothing and furballs, a collection of natural gemstones.  Most of these were loose, but a few had been lovingly treated to exceptionally intricate metal cages by some extremely talented artists.

How could I resist diving into wire wrapping some stones of my own, with such stellar examples of the craft sitting there – RIGHT THERE – in my own living room???

20160503_174127

No – this is not a photograph of one of the aforementioned intricate pieces – this is the first attempt I made at wrapping a stone in wire.  It’s a tumbled rose quartz piece I fished out of a bowl of pretty rocks I had sitting around, and some cheap craft wire I picked up at Walmart.  Ghastly, isn’t it?

They say you never forget your first…

After that – I played.  I bought some cabochons and beads and donuts from one of them discount-jewelry-findings websites.  Got more/better wire.  Played some more…

 

 

Then last summer took over, with the heat and the teeth issues and the fleas and the bedbug scare and the massive upheavals in the relationship with the SQO…everything went to pot … except wire wrapping.  So long as I was tossing pieces about, I had some semblance of control.

Eventually, all the twisting and wrapping and bending and viewing what other people had done on the web ended with this:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Apology Squid

What I like the best about this piece is the two lowest tentacles.  They look like feet…so the mighty squid is walking across my chest 😀

Aaaaand – once the squid emerged, the drive to create new wrapped pieces winnowed away…

This, too, is something I’m used to in my creative outlets.  I start a new art-form, spend time learning how it works (in this case, how wire bends, and how it DOESN’T bend), create something I’m extremely pleased with, then watch as the creative impulse within drains away from working in that medium.  For me, it seems the learning of a new craft is the drive – once I’m competent, I tend to move on.

I did manage to sell a couple of pieces in the fall – the kids took a small case of my better efforts to their last few camping festivals of the season – and this gave me just the boost I needed to explore complimentary crafts in jewelry making.

One thing I tried as a quirk while working full-bore on wire wrapping was the Kumihimo disk.  It’s based on Japanese braiding, and makes some quite pretty necklaces/bracelets.  I needed something unique to hang my wire wrapped pendants from, something larger and stronger than your traditional necklace chain.

I knew Kumihimo was short-lived when I got it, and I wasn’t surprised when the drive to weave heavier braids petered out quickly.  I’ve never had soft textile artforms stick with me throughout all of my 29(+) years, even though I’ve attempted several times to do so.

What’s the definition of insanity again?

So here I was – still stuck for an idea on what to offer as a chain or pendant cord for my creations.  After all, a pendant is just a pretty bauble until you have something to secure it to your person.  I browsed braided leather cord.  I browsed organza ribbon necklaces.  I toyed with the idea of full collars of woven wire, even though the push for wire wrapping had diminished.

And then I happened upon – The Ring Lord.

He runs a shop out of Canada which specializes in making jump rings.

Yea, I know…sexy as hell…

But – Ooooooh – what you can do with a little circle of wire.  OK, to be honest, a LOT of little circles of wire.

You can make chainmaille.

Chains with repeatable, intricate patterns along the length.  Chains that you can make to any length and width you want, and chain patterns that you can twist, loop, piece together and make new and exciting geometric shapes.

 

 

So…that’s what I’ve been doing with my little crafting self.  Come have a poke around my Etsy shop, and see what I’ve come up with.

 

 

 

 

Email from the Apocalypse (wish I weren’t here)

inhospitable2bwonderland

Welcome to the Birth of the End-of-All-Dreams.  I shall be your tour guide.

Your story teller.

Your lesson planner and teacher.

I am pleased to announce the new life which has just been thrust upon you- the journey in which you will, quite outside your own free will, be embarking in mere moments.

You still have free will, I assure you … but your options have narrowed to two selections:  survive, or die.

It’s time to choose one of these options.  I suggest you choose wisely.

 

If you are reading this than you, like the majority of your population, live more or less comfortably – within your safely enclosed bubble within your enormous apartment building,  windows firmly shuttered and doors securely locked against untoward (and potentially unsettling) outside influences.  You venture outside this little bubble two or three times a day for work and food, head hung low and back hunched slightly to avoid those before-mentioned outside influences.  The rest of your life is trusted to your electronic gizmos to artificially attach you to the rest of the world.  At this point, I’m willing to bet you’ve completely forgotten what the sky is supposed to look like.

So you’ve undoubtedly not noticed the unusual weather patterns going on right outside your walls.

Put down your phone, and open those curtains now.

16195713738_5be17f622eTrust me.  I don’t care that your weather app says its a beautiful day, that your news app is reporting all is serene, your social apps are showing you the latest one-line diversion or amusing argument, or that your job app says your 12 o’clock deadline is 15 minutes away.

 

Your life deadline is due in 10.  Go look out your window.

No, you’re not going mad.  The sky has never been that exact shade of muddy-reddish-orange-black before, has never held that sparkling particulate matter before, and has never rolled toward the city in that solid a mass before.

And you’ve always been able to see through the atmosphere before, to view as much of the horizon as your surroundings would allow.

Scared yet?  You should be.

That solid/moving particulate mass is going to eat your apartment.  It’s going to eat your building.  It’s going to eat the neighboring buildings, too.  In fact, that mass is going to eat everything Mankind has constructed as a means to separate itself from the rest of the natural world.  Any individual caught in this feeding frenzy will be…

Well, let’s just say Humanity has the numbers to spare…

The choice is yours, now.  Abandon your constructs, or become a corpse.

Choose wisely.

 

 

 

 

 

Space

 

Going through a bit of a rough time here on the left – a poorly-timed and Ambien-fueled Facebook post has my knickers all in a twist.

And I can’t – for the life of me – stabilize the emotional imbalance this has created.

On the plus side – the moment I dragged this picture out from the T&T’s ‘G-Spot’-ted past the earworm which provoked it’s creation started Ozzy just a-crooning in my head – so yes – silver lining and all that.  Hopefully, echoes of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ are now cycling through your mind, too.

I like to share earworms

I recently had my astrological chart looked up.  Aparently, my logic and my emotional centers are directly opposite each other, one with the sun in residence, the other with the moon.  I guess this means I need to strike a delicate balance between logic and emotion.

and when that balance gets all teeter-totter-y?  It sucks.

I find myself wildly gyrating between ‘pay attention to it later’ and ‘I H.U.R.T.’ – which is, on top of the freaking situation that GOT me swinging – causing further bouncing between the two.

 

I need space.  I need a galaxy-worth of empty vacuum between me and the rest.  Now how to I tell him?